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What would the Bill do?

The National Security Bill 2022-23 would replace existing counter-espionage laws with a comprehensive framework for countering hostile state activity analogous to the counter-terrorism framework established since 2000. It would create a foreign influence registration scheme with the aim of providing transparency around foreign activity and influence in the UK. It would also limit the availability of civil legal aid and damages for those connected with terrorist activity.  

Commons stages

Significant Government amendments were tabled at Committee stage in the Commons, including:

  • The extension of financial investigation powers to state threat investigations;
  • The establishment of a foreign influence registration scheme aimed at deterring foreign power use of covert arrangements, activities and proxies, by requiring greater transparency around activities directed by foreign powers or entities; and
  • The creation of new offences relating to obtaining material benefits from a foreign intelligence service.

For further background see the Library’s briefings for second reading in the Commons and following Committee stage.

The House of Lords Library produced a briefing covering the remaining stages in the Commons.

Lords amendments

The Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 17 November 2022. Significant amendments were made to the Bill by the Lords in Committee and on Report, including:

  • Changing the definition of several offences created by the Bill and clarifying that they could not be committed without genuine knowledge as to the effect of the conduct in question.
  • Introducing new transparency measures on UK-registered political parties with respect to donations received from “foreign powers” (amendment 22).
  • Replacing the previous criminal immunity under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 with a more targeted defence for members of the intelligence agencies and armed forces.
  • Extending the oversight provisions to cover both Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill.
  • Focussing the political tier of the foreign influence registration scheme explicitly on foreign powers.
  • Requiring the Prime Minister to revise the Government’s memorandum of understanding with the Intelligence and Security Committee (amendment 122).

Next stage

The Commons considered the Lords amendments on 3 May, disagreeing with amendments 22 and 122.

The Lords considered the Commons message on 21 June and voted to reinstate clauses 22B and 122B in lieu.

The Commons will consider the Lords amendments in lieu on 26 June.

Other relevant publications are on the Bill pages.

  • This paper refers to clauses as numbered in the Bill as brought from the Commons (HL Bill 68) and to amendment numbers in Lords Amendments.

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